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The practice of squatting, which involves individuals living in a home without the owner’s permission, is becoming more common in the US. However, a bipartisan state law passed in Florida aims to ban this practice and provide support to homeowners. Flash Shelton, an anti-squatting activist and “professional” squatter-remover, shared his experiences of dealing with squatters on his mother’s property in California, leading him to take action and found the United Handymans Association. He sees the Florida law as a positive step and hopes that other states will follow suit.

The Florida law, which is backed by Governor Ron DeSantis, makes it easier to evict squatters and allows law enforcement to arrest them if they cannot provide a lease or proof of paying rent. This law is meant to put an end to the so-called “squatter scam” and protect property owners’ rights. In contrast, states like New York are facing challenges with increasing squatter activity, causing distress for homeowners who are unable to remove unwanted guests from their properties.

New York’s laws regarding squatters allow individuals to claim a legal right to remain on a property without the owner’s permission after a certain period of time, which varies depending on the location within the state. In New York City, for example, a person can establish squatter’s rights after just 30 days. Various circumstances can lead to someone becoming a squatter, such as a tenant refusing to pay rent, a former owner’s relative refusing to vacate the property, or a stranger entering the property and never leaving.

Squatters in New York must have a reasonable basis for claiming the property belongs to them and must treat the home as if they were an owner, such as performing yard work or making repairs. Eliminating squatters from a property involves sending an eviction notice, filing a court complaint if necessary, and ultimately having the sheriff conduct the eviction. Owners can protect themselves from squatters by not leaving properties vacant for extended periods, ensuring the building is secure, well-lit, and equipped with surveillance cameras.

In the event of confronting squatters, it is advised to contact law enforcement immediately for safety reasons. Flash Shelton suggests not taking matters into one’s own hands and risking personal safety. If police are unable to assist, homeowners can reach out to organizations like Shelton’s Squatter Hunters for support before resorting to civil litigation. Shelton believes that proactive measures can help resolve squatter issues more effectively, preventing costly and prolonged legal battles while protecting homeowners’ rights to their properties.

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